05/16/2017 6:32AM

Goldfeder: What was I thinking? for May 16, 2017


As we head into Preakness week, I’m hoping the last few weeks have me well prepared for the task ahead.

Studies have shown that when a person does well and gets complimented, his performance tails off the next time out. When a person does poorly and gets reprimanded, the opposite occurs, and performance is improved. An example of this theory for me was Saturday, April 29, and Derby Day, May 16. Both dates had pressure, but I performed markedly better on April 29.

The drop-off was easily explainable. My work responsibilities during Derby week were heavy and my race preparation incomplete. I did not have time to prepare a list but played the card anyway, holding my own early but cracking later in the day with questionable plays. The week before, I was able to get the prep work done and prepare my list. Despite what appeared to be a far more pressure-packed day, the results were very positive.  

"In times of great stress or adversity, it's always best to keep busy, to plow your anger and your energy into something positive."

Lee Iacocca

Dealing with outside stress while trying to play the races is not uncommon, but it can really throw you off your game if you let it. This is another reason why preparation and planning are so vital. On April 29, it seemed like nothing in my world was going right, but after having prepared my list, I was intent on playing despite the distractions going on around me.

In fact, looking at the races was a good outlet to focus on something and take my mind off the issues that I was facing in the "real world." The details are unimportant, but the result was that I was under pressure to fix a problem. After having done what I could, my goal was to get the negative thoughts out of my head. Having worked through Friday evening to prepare for Saturday, I approached the race day with a fair amount of confidence but was still vulnerable because of the outside issues weighing on my mind.

"The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another."

William James


I went to work.

A quick review of a core approach:

I try to bet around 5 percent of my bankroll on any individual race. If I have a strong opinion, I will raise that to 10 percent. The initial approach is to try to attack with simple methods, such as betting basic win-place betting, exactas and daily doubles. If I have strong keys, I will go further and play pick threes and pick fours.

I prepare a list of horses who I think have the chance to be potential keys and put them in chronological order based on post time.

I played 12 horses from a list that included 19 options. These were the plays:

Review of some key plays:

Laurel 1: The first play of the day is always key as it establishes your early rhythm. 9-Bete Noir, a 5-year-old maiden, showed good run in her last couple of races before taking a break. Fresh from the layoff, she figured to improve. At 4-1, she seemed as good a play as the 8-5 favorite. She made her run and just missed. The exacta paid $24.40 and perhaps would have been a better play, but the $6 place price was reasonable, and I was happy with it.

Gulfstream 2: The 6-All About Diva was 2-1 when I bet her (as they loaded into the gate). When they broke, she was 6-5. I probably would not have made the win bet at that price, but she whistled on the lead, and the outcome was never in doubt. I singled her in the pick four, which turned out to be very chalky, so although the single was the right move, I made a minimal profit while moving the churn.

Belmont 2: I liked 1-Animal Posse a bit last year and thought he was a good horse who would be ready to fire off the bench. That said, 3-1 was probably too short of a price to key him in exotics and just long enough to play him to win in a relatively open race. Not a particularly good play and one that could have put me into a funk. He ran well and will improve off this effort, but the time to play him is probably his next start, as opposed to having taken the chance at 3-1 in this race.

Belmont 4: I really liked the well-bred 9-El Talento coming off the layoff for Todd Pletcher. With a different bankroll, he would have been a major play for me, but I followed the rules I had established, wagering 8 percent of the bankroll. He ran well at a good price, and the best exacta came in, netting a 27 percent profit from the race.

Laurel 7: 8-Beaches N Bourbon looked best on paper, and as long as he broke well, I thought he'd be tough to beat; 9-5 was fair enough, and he got the job done, sitting just off the pace before taking over in upper stretch.

This began a string of four straight successful win bets and a daily double.

I trusted the list and got fair value, which I determined from looking at the board. The day was all about playing within myself and trusting my preparation. I didn't have to call many audibles, and I'm not sure that I would have been on top of my game had I needed to make tough decisions. I'm sure I missed some opportunities, but the pressure of the race day did not come from the "action" of the game. Instead, the process of playing the game provided a nice and comfortable escape into a place I'd like to visit more often, where winning soothes some of the pain that comes from living our life.

I churned 84 percent of my bankroll and had a positive ROI of $.92/$1.00

Win Bets: 6-12 (50 percent) Average Mutuel $6.88 with positive ROI of +.72/$1.00

Place Bets: 3-4 (75%) Average Mutuel $4.90 with positive ROI of +.84/$1.00

The point of preparation was emphasized again the next week when I scrambled and lost while dealing with the additional variable of muddy tracks on May 6. My lesson was not to pass completely, but that the level of play needs to be adjusted to suit the foundation upon which an opinion is based.

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